Each week leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, we will be asking certain team members for their takes on every Star Wars film in chronological order. Last week, we discussed–of course–Solo: A Star Wars Story.
(Catch up if you need. We’ll wait…)
This week, we will unfold our thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The plot for this film comes directly from the opening crawl of A New Hope. A group of rebels steal the plans for the empire’s ultimate weapon: the Death Star.
The film opened to a ton of praise from audiences and critics alike, and is even regarded by some to be the best of the Disney era movies. Here is what our members at MoviesMatrix have to say…
Q1. General Thoughts?
Marsellus Durden: As exciting and fresh as The Force Awakens was, this is easily the very best Star Wars film out of the most recent collection. Masterfully paced and shot, I loved seeing the darker side of the Rebellion and the lengths their teams of espionage had to take in order to retrieve those “secret plans” only casually mentioned in A New Hope. The entire third act–from the landing at the beautiful beaches of Scarif through the final frame with Princess Leia declaring they now have “hope”–is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. Most importantly, it was completely satisfying.
Logan Slavin: I liked this movie. It was fun to see a Star Wars movie that takes place in a war setting without heavy use of the Force! A friend of mine, @SSPPUDD, pointed out to me this was basically a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in space. I think that’s a fun idea for a Star Wars movie! If they are going to continue making Star Wars movies after The Rise of Skywalker, I hope they’re like this!
Owen: This is a solid middle-of-the-road Star Wars entry. The characters are shallow and, even though that was part of the point, that’s one of the main reasons I love Star Wars… and it was missing. Other than that: the visuals, CGI, and action sequences are among the best in the series. And that Vader scene? Perfection!
Michael Colan: Rogue One is a pretty solid film that attempts to push the Star Wars universe into a morally complex area. While it doesn’t always succeed in its storytelling, it does end with a bang, which makes up for an occasional rocky road. Adding to its tactile nature, Gareth Edward’s eye for scale always makes this movie feel huge.
WriteOnGeek: If you saw Godzilla, you know that nuclear-imbued lizard never looked more ferocious and truly, as a creature from another world. His keen perspective to scale makes the surreal appear realistic. Watching people running from AT-AT walkers, Star Destroyers almost eclipse the sun, and um…Lord Vader?! Please! Rogue One was thrilling and unsuspecting. The amazing part of the movie was that it was an origin movie where we didn’t think we needed one.
Q2. Characters: Good or Bad?
Marsellus Durden: Admittedly, it is difficult to balance such an eclectic group as the Rebel crew in Rogue One but I feel they did the best they could. Although characters like Chirrut, Baze Malbus, or Bodhi could have benefited from more screen-time, we still got just enough to care about them.
Logan Slavin: For the most part, I liked the characters. A lot of them didn’t get much screen-time and were underdeveloped, but with Cassian getting a Disney+ show, that could change. My personal favorite character was probably K-2SO because the sassy droid is always one of the best characters in Star Wars.
Owen: Bad. The point was to have a movie about the rebellion, but the characters in this film were so lacking that it dragged the film down in my opinion. Despite my gripes with it, the characters were entertaining and had some memorable traits about them. K-2SO and Chirrut were standouts.
Michael Colan: They are okay. Some characters are better than others but some really lack agency and the script wasn’t always fleshed out enough for the characters to deal with the moral quarries they face. Still, K-2SO is arguably the best character.
WriteOnGeek: This was an odd situation for a Star Wars movie — the storyline was more important than the characters, but a movie doesn’t work if the characters can’t carry the storyline. They tried but the script was written for a character focus, which ended up dimming the switch on what those characters could have been. K-2SO was a marvel in this universe, but admittedly as a martial arts students for two decades (and a nerd all my life), see Sifu Donnie Yen in an effin’ Star Wars movie, I almost peed myself! (And to think, he almost didn’t do it at all.)
Q3. Was the Fan-Service Good?
Marsellus Durden: The fan service here was 100% of what it should have been. It’s subtle, clever, and should never take away from the general experience. They were as quick as seeing blue milk, blatant as the Dr. Evazan cameo, or some slick foreshadowing like seeing Red 5 of the Red X-Wing Squadron go down. Epic and fun stuff for Star Wars geeks of all ages.
Logan Slavin: I love the way this movie handles fan-service–it was throughout the entire film. The premise was basically to find out how the Rebels got the plans to the Death Star. I like that they killed off the characters to explain why they were not mentioned in the previous movies. I even enjoyed the ties to Star Wars Rebels, especially seeing Chopper make an appearance in the background. Darth Vader was awesome!
Owen: The fan-service was actually very well done. Everything felt natural to the plot, and fit in nicely. With a film like this, fan-service is necessary and could’ve been sloppy, but that isn’t the case.
Michael Colan: The whole movie is inherently fan service. Which always makes sense to me than the fans who hate The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens tend to like this film above all the other Disney era Star Wars. It’s occasionally too winky for my taste but I’m a Star Wars fan so I was serviced on a number of occasions.
WriteOnGeek: Any Star Wars geek can not see Rogue One and not feel served. Times of big laughter (i.e., just about all K-2SO), great applause (i.e., “I am the Force; The Force is with me”), and HO-LEE-CRAP…did I mention Lord Vader yet?! Fan Service 101: Give the fans what they want and even some stuff they didn’t know they needed. Gareth Edwards served it up like it was Thanksgiving Dinner.
Q4. Favorite Aspect and Why?
Marsellus Durden: From the second Cassian gunned down his fellow Rebel who had vital information, I knew the audience was in for something different. Seeing this dark side of the Rebellion and the consequences of wartime espionage was both thrilling and eye opening.
Logan Slavin: There are two parts of the film that I liked the most. The first, as I mentioned earlier, is the lack of the Force and lightsabers. Don’t get me wrong, I love lightsabers, but it was a fun change of pace to not see them featured so heavily. My other favorite part; however, features lightsabers heavily! The scene on the Rebel ship with Darth Vader! Need I say more?
Owen: The third act. The action is some of the best in the franchise. The ground battle is real and gritty, unlike anything we’ve seen before. It feels like a war film. The space battle is also spectacular, being one of the best alongside the Battle of Endor and Coruscant. The Star Destroyer’s CGI in particular was spot-on.
Michael Colan: Everyone is going to say the Vader scene, which is exceptional. That said, I think this is what some fans are purely looking for in their Star Wars movies, which misses the point of Star Wars. I love much of the imagery, from the grand scale to the ground view of some of these battles, like in Jeda. I wish there was some more intimate character moments, like after the confrontation between Jynn and Cassian (a great scene that’s not capitalized on).
WriteOnGeek: The main characters died. No really. Hear me out: Some saga haters complained this movie didn’t need to happen because storylines may create plot holes. The demise of all the primary characters ensure that wouldn’t happen. They all had a role in this story, and their imminent deaths guaranteed dots were connected, answers were provided, and the audiences were satisfied.
Q5. Excited for the Cassian Andor Series on Disney+?
Marsellus Durden: I am definitely genuinely excited to see more of Cassian on Disney+. The dark underworld of the Empire and the spies who traverse through both sides has limitless potential if done correctly.
Logan Slavin: I am a little excited for the Cassian series. I didn’t really care about the character very much after seeing the movie. In his scenes, Cassian was overshadowed by his droid companion. I am excited for the show because it will most likely feature K-2SO and I loved him. Plus, it’s most likely not going to feature too many Jedi, so that’s cool.
Owen: I was really hoping for a completely new series with new characters, and out of all of the characters to choose, they chose one I wasn’t very interested in. That said, his backstory could be interesting, and will lend itself well to a spy series.
Michael Colan: I’m moderately excited for the series. It’s not like Obi-Wan or The Mandalorian (or the new season of the clone wars) but Cassian was one of the characters that I liked from this movie. I don’t know how much there is to explore but we shall see.
WriteOnGeek: Meh. (Should I write more than that?)